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CarComplaints.com Notes: The 2004 Ford Explorer one of our worst vehicles on record. "Avoid like the plague" is putting it lightly.

The 2002-2005 Explorer has a very well-established record of expensive transmission failure at under 100k miles. The Explorer has an enclosed transmission which is typically replaced with a rebuilt transmission at a cost of almost $3,000.

Another common problem for the 2002-2005 Explorer is wheel bearing failure at around 90k miles, with a typical repair bill of $500 to $1000 depending on how many wheel bearings failed.

Adding insult to injury, the 2002-2005 Explorer also has a massive problem with the rear panel cracking. While it's a minor annoyance compared to transmission failure, ironically the crack usually goes right through the Ford logo.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
74,472 miles
Total Complaints:
728 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (287 reports)
  2. not sure (198 reports)
  3. replace panel (102 reports)
  4. possible class action lawsuit (58 reports)
  5. call Ford motor company 1-800-241-3673 (27 reports)
  6. do not buy Ford again (25 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 37)

problem #728

Feb 082012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


Just like every other owner of this vehicle, I closed the lift gate one day and it had a long crack going down the right side of the Ford logo. Great job yet again, Ford.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #727

Jan 222011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I bought this truck used in great condition for the miles it had. Then using the tailgate often I saw that a crack was coming out. Then the whole panel next to the FORD logo cracked with the closing and driving of the back door. Ford needs to get these fixed since every 10 Explorers I see, 8 to 9 are cracked. REALLY?

- , Hollywood, FL, USA

problem #726

Jun 062015

Explorer XLS 4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,419 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

Ford should continue to support the cost of the repair with the assistance program. Its an unacceptable customer irritant, that affects quality.

Fix it Ford!

Update from Aug 8, 2015: It cost $450 (Canadian) to fix the defective panel and could happen again, because the panel is poorly designed.

- , Beeton, ON, Canada

problem #725

May 092013

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


I've noticed this same crack in other 2004 Ford Explorers and I'm wondering if its a recall.

- , Woodlawn, MD, USA

problem #724

Jan 052015

Explorer XTL 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 220,000 miles

Ford initially provided a fix now refuses to repair.

- , Sun City, CA, USA

problem #723

Jan 042015

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 202,000 miles

I see these all the f*ing time. My dad owns two Explorers; a white 2005 which my mother bought new, this one is yet to crack but only has 140,000. I bought this Eddie Bauer one from my old substitute teacher/neighbor for $2000 with 200,000 miles on it because everything but the transmission was tip-top. Drove it for literally two months, shut trunk hatch as one unit with normal force and it cracks right along the Ford logo.

My dad owns am auto repair shop and I see these and the Mercury Montaineers roll in with this damage all the time, it's really annoying and makes the car look like crap without any fault of the owner. I really wish Ford would offer some sort of aftermarket fix for this.

- , East Lansing, MI, USA

problem #722

Sep 242011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


Panel cracked right by the emblem with the Ford symbol. Now I have two cracks. Called Ford and they said that there was not a recall for it. I would need to repair and pay for it. Strange thing is...Ford also made the Lincoln Aviator same year had the exact same problem and they did do a recall for that. Not cool on Ford. Not happy

- , Gladstone, MO - Missouri, USA

problem #721

Mar 012015

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window

I had heard about this problem and my hatch didn't crack till after this cold winter. But, this is the first winter that this explorer has been kept outside, not garaged. My garaged is under my house and insulated. It never gets below freezing in the garage. I called Ford and asked them if they can help financially with the repairs. They said no.

- , Windsor Locks, CT, USA

problem #720

Jul 032013

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

Body of Explorer looks great except this! Being this is a problem across the board, Ford should make it right or disclose the flaw!

- , Orange Park, FL, USA

problem #719

Jan 012014

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Ford needs to fix this defective part. I'm now seeing cracked Ford Explorers every time I'm driving on the road or pulling into store parking lots. Why should the consumer pay for what is clearly a defective part?????

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #718

Jan 012007


  • 20,000 miles


I am petrified that these two cracks in my rear panel are going to cause harm to me or someone else. I am afraid that when opening or closing of the rear hatch panel the entire glass is going to come crashing down on whoever is there!!!!

This to me seems very dangerous!!!!!!!!!!!

And should have been noticed a very long time ago...I see PLENTY of explorers with the same problem just in my everyday driving. How could this not be seen as a RECALL???????

- , Bronx, NY, USA

problem #717

Sep 012008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,125 miles

I drive down the road and see Explorer after Explorer with this same problem, yet when I called Ford customer service to complain they stated there was no such issue with the Ford Explorer. They decided to be willfully blind, even though at least 99% of the vehicles have this very same crack across the back of the rear panel, below the glass window. Ford's lack of action in addressing this obvious engineering flaw is ground for a class action lawsuit.

- , Frisco, TX, USA

problem #716

Sep 132008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,523 miles

Ford sucks, this vehicle has had the best of care, always garaged at night, low miles and the back lift gate cracked and the assholes won't fix it. I only buy Dodge for my two companies now. Chevrolet isn't any better. These jerks wonder why the Japanese and European car companies do so well in the US.

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #715

Oct 012014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Water does leak through the crack. Ford needs to fix this.

- , Blue Island, IL, USA

problem #714

Jun 242009

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,899 miles

On a sunny June day in 2009 I drove to a country furniture store within 10 miles of my home. I purchase a table for my kitchen with chairs. The furniture was loaded into the back of my 2004 Explorer by the store owner. Within 1 mile of my leaving the store I was startled by a very loud pop. I quickly pulled to the side of the road to check the furniture, thinking a chair shifted. I could find nothing to explain the noise. However later while unloading the furniture I noticed a crack starting at the top of the panel around the FORD logo in the back door. I concluded this was the cause of the loud pop noise.

Shortly afterwards I called Ford's toll free number and complained but received no satisfaction. I have continued to complain whenever the Explorer is in for service at the dealerships in Richmond & Lexington, Kentucky. Now when I'm out on the roads I always check out all Explorers 2002-2005 for the crack...it is no surprise to see most of them with the same or similar annoying crack. I take excellent care of my Explorer and believe faulty materials or poor design caused this crack. I hold Ford Motor Company accountable for this defect.

- , Irvine, KY, USA

problem #713

Jan 072015

Explorer XLT Sport 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

Concerned about water intrusion into latch area or other issues due to crack.

- , Chanhassen, MN, USA

problem #712

Jan 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

A second crack has occurred this past weekend 1/2/15. I'll post photos later.

- , Canyon Country, CA, USA

problem #711

Sep 012014

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,800 miles

The crack on the rear lift gate on my Explorer really looks bad. This is my third Explorer and if Ford does not fix this, there is not going to be a number 4.

- , Mission, TX, USA

problem #710

Mar 012011

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

When my wife discovered the crack it was 1 inch long. I was washing the car 2 weeks later and noticed the crack went from the top just under the window to the bottom of the door. Went to get an estimate from the body shop and was quoted $450 to repair. I have not had it repaired yet.

- , Lake Havasu City, AZ, USA

problem #709

Feb 102010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

There are two cracks in the rear panel that are an eyesore. Not happy with this vehicle. Would not recommend to others.

- , La Vernia, TX, USA

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